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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Global Exchange logoGLOBAL EXCHANGE REORGANIZED The Global Exchange on the corner of Russell Street and College Avenue recently reorganized its interior to make the store feel more open and better showcase the artwork on sale. The bulky display pieces were taken out to open up floor and wall space, according to lead sales associate Lauren Matley. While it used to feel “cozy, like a marketplace,” the space is now “happy and light,” said Matley. The inventory is also more modern, with less emphasis on tribal crafts. Global Exchange, an international human rights organization “dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world,” has two stores in the Bay Area. The San Francisco store opened in 1989 and the College Avenue store opened in 1991. Both places sell crafts made by artisans from around the world.

Zealios logoWORLD’S FIRST SUN-ACTIVATED COUPON Berkeley-based Zealios Skin Care has partnered with media arts company TBWA\Toronto to develop the world’s first digital sun-activated coupon, according to a recent company statement. The coupon is stored on a user’s Android phone, which uses ambient light sensors to detect sunlight. Once a certain level of sunlight has been reached, the coupon activates, offering 50% off a 3-ounce tube of Zealios sunscreen. Non-Android users can also claim 20% off the same product. Zealios’ coupon campaign falls in line with its broader mission to provide and encourage skin care for all ages and backgrounds. The company launched its athletic skin lubricant Betwixt in 2009, and introduced Zealios sunscreen, its flagship product, in 2012.

Reedy, Ng Generous heart
Photo: Cherie Hill

GENEROUS HEART AWARD WINNERS Two members of the Luna Dance Institute, Director of Teaching and Learning Patricia Reedy and Director of Community Engagement Nancy Ng, were awarded a Generous Heart award in May, according the studio’s spokeswoman, Cherie Hill. The award is given out by Dance Studio Life magazine, and honors those who “do important, innovative work in dance education and service to the dance community.” Luna Dance Institute’s family-based children’s dance programs are nationally acclaimed and, through its MPACT program, School and Community Alliances and Studio Lab, the studio is able to offer creative-based dance classes to children of all backgrounds across the East Bay. In response to receiving the award, Ng thanked her coworkers at Luna: “At the heart of Luna is the amazing team of women I have the privilege to work with every day. Their strength, passion and dedication to the art of dance and all of its possibilities inspire me to do my work as a co-director at Luna. These amazing colleagues have enabled Patricia and me to receive this honor on behalf of our dance institute.”

Photo: Patricia Benson
Photo: Patricia Benson

HARMONIQUE MOVE AND NAME CHANGE Due to structural issues at its current location at 1820 Solano Ave., family-owned furniture store Harmonique is moving to 6136 Medau Place in Oakland’s Montclair Village. The new store will open in September. Coinciding with the move is a name change, which will reflect the new store’s updated features. Mix, as it will be called, will primarily sell contemporary furniture, window treatments and other crafts “you can’t buy at Target or Macy’s,” said co-owner Patricia Benson. Harmonique is located in the same building that housed La Farine, which shut abruptly July 1 in part because of disputes with the building’s landlord about lease issues. Insiders said mold and structural issues were also a problem.

PHILZ IN WEST BERKELEY Philz Coffee has opened its doors in West Berkeley at 1313 Ninth Street, at Gilman Street, as tipped last week in Shop Talk. Berkeleyside went to Monday’s soft launch, and has an update on the neighborhood shopping district, as well as photos from the event.

Nature's Express on Solano Avenue is set to re-open Saturday. Photo: Nature's Express
Photo: Nature’s Express

NATURE’S EXPRESS CHANGES HANDS Ownership of Nature’s Express at 1823 Solano Ave. has changed hands, as we reported last week, and has shut briefly to make changes to stop the hemorrhaging of money from the restaurant. Josh Levine, a representative for the new management team, said the former owner had been losing $10,000 to $28,000 each month. He said tough choices had to be made to keep the business going, and that included laying off three employees, including the founding chef. A number of other workers quit in protest and began their own outreach effort, via a crowd-funding website, to complain about the abrupt layoffs. The former employees are asking the community for financial support to tide them over. Levine said the restaurant should reopen this week.


Shop Talk is our regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns, and check out Bites for the latest East Bay restaurant news.